As we Americans continue full steam ahead down the path of tolerance and acceptance, denying the existence of absolute truth and empowering everyone to be god and authoritative in his own eyes, we are losing all sense of accountability. While one can still go to jail for murder or grand larceny, the pool of excuses is broadening. Mental illness, duress, self defense and situational considerations allow the guilty to walk freely. We have philosophized ourselves into a corner where everyone has their freedom to choose every aspect of their lives, and no one has the right to judge, or even look funny at another because of his choices.
I have heard it said that God made man in His image, and now we are returning the favor. We value tolerance, acceptance and self determination so highly that we attempt to force these attributes onto God. We read books like “Redeeming Love” and we listen to our best friends who say, “I will support whatever decision you make” and think that we are eternally in the clear. Because God serves us. Right? This is how we end up with situations like the coming out of Vicky Beeching and her self justification, “God loves me just the way I am”.
Is God’s love truly unconditional? We need to consider carefully what we mean by the notion and what Scripture has to say about it. When it comes to the offer of salvation, yes, that love is unconditional. I cannot merit God’s salvation by doing something, and I cannot be so wicked that He would withhold it from me. The act of justification is God paying the penalty for my sin, apart from anything good within me. It is by faith, through grace, and not of works so that no man may boast (Eph 2.8-9). But His saving grace does require obedience.
“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”
– Luke 6.46
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.”
– John 14.15
“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him…If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.”
– John 14.21-24
The mark of the one who has been saved, the mark of the one who loves Jesus is the one who obeys Him. If we do not obey Him, them we prove ourselves to not love Him, to not be saved. God’s saving grace is unconditional to earn, but conditional to maintain. He will not smile on or approve of the one who continues in sin after hearing of grace:
For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.
– Heb 10.26-27
So how does that work? We like to talk about the love, grace and mercy of God, but it is less fun to talk about His righteousness, wrath and judgment. A.W. Tozer makes this very clear observation:
All of God’s acts are consistent with all of His attributes. No attribute contradicts any other, but all harmonize and blend into each other in the infinite abyss of the Godhead.
– A.W. Tozer
God’s wrath, grace, judgment, mercy, love and anger are all perfectly working together to create the infinite, perfect sovereign over the universe. His grace freely forgives all who ask, and His wrath fully punishes all who do not. We are all guilty before Him, as He is the perfect, all knowing judge who can see not only our actions but our hearts, and He Himself wrote the book on sin. If it were not for the Law of God, we would not know sin (Rom 3.20).
God does not accept our ongoing actions unconditionally. He hates sin. He will not tolerate it.
I listened to a beautiful testimony yesterday, I highly recommend it to you:
Christopher says, “God did not call me to be heterosexual because He is heterosexual. He called me to be holy because He is holy”. God does not come to us in the filth and mire, save us and then leave us there. He comes to us in the filth and mire and rescues us. He pull us out of the mud, He washes us clean, He set our feet on solid ground and gives us a new heart and a new mind and the ability to obey and love Him. His grace and love cause us to be a new creation, set on His ways and intentions. He expects love, obedience, faithfulness and holiness from us in return. Yes, He forgives us when we mess up, but He empowers us to change and expects us to put to death the deeds of the flesh.
We are not earning your salvation by obeying. We are proving ourselves to be saved by obeying. Be holy, for He is holy.